Tag Archives: desserts

PopShop Market Taking Over New Haven w/ Food Trucks + Shops

2 Apr
PopShop Market April 2014 New Haven

Lots o’ food trucks!

PopShop Market is back for some more awesomeness here in 2014 and their biggest and baddest spot ever:  The Shops at Yale!  This one day free event on 4/27/14 from 11-4 pm is a continuation of a series of events that PopShop Market has held in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, featuring an excellent variety of personally curated vendors.  

Not only will you be able to find whatever you need to get ready for spring, there will also be a ton of food options from some of CT’s best food trucks  for you to make your own lunch/brunch.  And, who doesn’t like to get a bit saucy during the day?  Of course ya do, it’s the weekend and you’ve earned it.  So, get ready for PopShop’s Signature BarCar that will feature spring-inspired cocktails and a CT brewery.  Details on this haven’t been revealed yet, so make sure to like them on FB and follow them on Twitter to get first dibs on the info.    

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Vote in Caryn Stabinsky of elm as The People’s Best New Pastry Chef!

4 Apr

“After 25 years of naming America’s Best New Chefs, we’re ready for dessert: F&W editors are searching for the Best New Pastry Chefs in the country and you can help us crown The People’s Best New Pastry Chef!”

Yes, you heard that right…now Food & Wine is looking for the newest maven of muffins, the sultan of strudel, the ultimate baker of biscuits, the queen of tarts, the king of key lime pie…The People’s Best New Pastry Chef. There are pastry chefs from the West, Central, and the East up for the big honor. And, when you click through to the East region, you will see an amazing array of skilled chefs who are up for the prestigious The People’s Best New Pastry Chef.  And, there amongst the New York City, Atlanta, Boston, and DC chefs is Caryn Stabinsky, pastry chef at elm of New Canaan, Connecticut.

While it has only been around for a year, elm has garnered lots of praise and won top honors by becoming one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants for 2012. And, hopefully after this contest (the voting ends April 8, so chop chop), they will have another award to add to their tasting table.  Why do you need to vote for Caryn?  Well, she went to the Institute of Culinary Education and has been at some great places such as Monkey Bar, WD~50, and Oceana.  And here are just some of the desserts that she has crafted at elm:

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Ya Ain’t Scena-it All ‘Til Ya Seen Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant, Darien

4 Dec

Darien Restaurant Week led us to discover a star that’s been shining in Darien since September 1, 2010:  Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant.  Scena is the brainchild of the same owners of Cava in New Canaan and 55° Wine Bar & Restaurant in Fairfield.  When we arrived, we enjoyed Scena’s decor, which had a modern sensibility to it, similar to the food.  It’s rooted in real, classic Italian dishes and kinds of flavors, but it’s more than that.  The food is deeper, more complex, and is even playful…more on that when we get to the Nutella Filled Crepe.

First, we looked through the extensive wine list for a nice red to go with our meal.  There are bottles to go with anybody’s budget, low to high.  We stuck with a nice $38 bottle of 2006 Masi Campofiorin from Verona.  It was a nice bold red, but not too overpowering, with plenty of dark fruit flavors and a hint of chocolate at the finish.  The perfect match to this was the Scena Antipasti that I ordered.  House-made mozzarella lay before me, covered in a wonderful tomato jam.  Next to that was an eggplant caponata whose smoky taste came from some pignolas.  Add in some prosciutto di parma, two slices of parmesan, and sopresetta and I was feeling good.  I give my compliments to the chef for this because the cheese and meat was fresh.  There’s nothing worse than getting poor quality meats and cheeses in your antipasta…I think we’ve all had that experience.  Kristien enjoyed the Crispy Fried Artichoke Salad with goat cheese, arugula, and pumpkin seed pesto.  The salad was a perfect blend of ingredients and textures, though the pesto stood out in a good way and brought the whole starter together.

The main dish, Seafood Pan Roast, is what I was dying for and when it arrived I took a few deep breaths.  Two perfectly cooked and seasoned scallops awaited me, towering above shrimp, lobster, clams, and mussels.  All of this stood atop a beautifully prepared and slightly buttery herb risotto.  Chunks of tomato were strewn about through the dish with a red broth, and added a nice acidity to the dish.  The portion for this was nicely sized, but I couldn’t help but want more of the risotto.  One pet peeve of mine, though, is that if you’re ordering a seafood dish, you should be given a bowl to put the shells in.  I did a McGyver and put the shells on my bread plate–who says a Stamfordite can’t improvise?  Kristien had the Wood Fire Roasted Free Range Chicken with spicy sausage, mushrooms, spinach, cherry peppers, and a side of whipped potatoes.  The skin of the chicken was crispy and flavorful, even a bit peppery.  The meat remained moist and wasn’t dry at all.  It was hard to tell, though, if there was sausage in the dish.  We would have loved to have that flavor pushed more forward into the plate along with more of a kick from spicier cherry peppers.

As we were thinking of dessert we began to have a nice conversation with the people next to us. Claude Priolet and  Karen were the kind of people you’d want to share every dinner with.  Kind, polite, and well spoken, they treated Kristien to an amazingly smooth Taylor Fladgate port and me to a strong shot of Grappa di Montalcino “Banfi.”  Thanks, again, to both of you!

So, with that nice warm feeling of port and grappa creeping down our bodies, a divine crepe descended from heaven to our table. First of all, you’ve got banana gelato, drizzled with caramel, and sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts.  Really, that’s all you’d need, but they aren’t happy with the same old standard.  Enter some delicate crepes that are filled with nutella and you’ve really got a meal ender to end all meals.

We went back with a great couple, Megan and Ron, last night (10/22/11)and we all had an amazing meal.  We just had to bump up the Nom rating from 3.75 to 4.25!  We decided that we’re definitely headed back because there were more “secondo” and freshly made pasta dishes to try.  We’re talking 3.75 Noms with $$$ for price.  This is definitely a place that has great, reliable, quality food that is worthy of return visits.

Noms:  4.25

Cost:  $$$

Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant
Address:  1077 Post Road, Darien, CT  06820
Phone: (203) 662-3226  Fax: (203) 662-3227
Email: info@scenawinebar.com
Site:  http://scenawinebar.com/
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Scena-Wine-Bar-RestaurantDarien/173433756010597
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/scenawinebar
 

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Experience the divine trinity: Amazing food, wine & music – The Fez, Stamford

21 Nov

We’ve walked by The Fez several times since they opened this past summer uttering the words, “We have to try that place someday.” But it always seemed that when we had the chance, we’d say, “Hmm, not sure I’m in the mood for Moroccan food.” Now we know, that was a BIG mistake.  With their large and eclectic menu of snacks, small plates, and entrees inspired by a variety of flavors across the Mediterranean, there is something absolutely fabulous for whatever mood you’re in.

So no point in writing this huge blog post to work my way up to our final verdict. Let’s just get it out there now. The Fez is officially our favorite restaurant in Stamford to date with 4.5 noms. Yep, it’s that awesome. Here are the many reasons why:

Upon entering we were immediately struck by the amazing smell of  Mediterranean spices. One quick look to the left revealed the specials of the day on a little chalkboard. Walnut and currant glazed lamb chops with mushroom gnocchi caught my eye. Wow, I’d never seen such a unique combination.  A glance over the left revealed a small bar, intimate little tables, colorful Moroccan decor, and a small stage area for their vast array of nightly entertainment. We knew right away we were in for a great experience.

I know I’ve said this before, but we had an incredibly hard time choosing what to order, to the point where we were asking each other if we were hungry enough to eat six different dishes! We expressed our indecision to our first waitress, to which she offered up the owner and resident wine expert, Eric, to help us choose the perfect dishes and the perfect accompanying wine.  Meeting Eric was a very nice experience–pleasant, passionate, and smart. He informed us that the wine list isn’t up-to-date because they can’t keep up with his thirst for discovering and purchasing new wines, especially from Lebanon and South Africa. Love it! We let him take the reins on recommending a bottle based on our taste. He popped open a California blend that I didn’t love. His response? “No problem, I want you to love the wine, and if you don’t we’ll keep trying options until you do.” The next bottle was ‘the one.’ A medium-bodied blend from Lebanon, the 2007 Reserve du Couvent by Chateau Ksara had forward fruit flavors and a slight spiciness. The perfect pairing to what we were about to enjoy.

Danny and I started off by sharing two phenomenal dishes from the “snacks” section of the menu. The caramelized cauliflower with brown butter sauce, golden raisins, and pine nuts was a delicate and flavorful fusion of French and Moroccan flavors.  I typically don’t like cauliflower, but this was perfecto! Then, we thoroughly enjoyed the Pizzet Aroub, where Italy meets the Middle East– a unique combination of soft and perfectly sweet braised onions, sumac, olive oil, and pine nuts. On to the main dishes. I HAD to order the special I mentioned earlier–walnut and currant glazed lamb chops with mushroom gnocchi. Words cannot explain how intensely delicious this dish was. Perfectly cooked lamb (just under medium), slightly sweet and oh-so savory currant sauce, glazed walnuts, and hand-made gnocchi from the Bronx with an earthy mushroom sauce was one of the most fantastic flavor combinations my taste buds have enjoyed in a long time.  Danny ordered the grilled seven spice sirloin with tomato jam and fingerling potatoes. The sirloin was also fantastically seasoned and perfectly cooked at medium-rare, and the flavorful, but not overpowering, tomato jam was the perfect complement.  We then ended with Moroccan coffee, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom and the Briwats for dessert, which is basically an Israeli baklava but not as teeth-hurtingly sweet. It was quite delicious!

After sharing our enjoyment with our very friendly and knowledgable second waiter, Thami (who happens to actually be from Morocco), he informed us that before they even opened they had a French chef from a 4-star hotel in Dubai and a Moroccan chef working together to craft and test this perfect menu… and perfect it was.

And, to finish off this divine trinity was the entertainment. We we were lucky enough to be there on a Friday night, which is belly dancing night (as is Thursday). Around 9:00 the beautiful Moroccan music suddenly became louder, then a roar from the diners as the beautiful and smiling Adina danced her way around the tables. I was impressed by her skill level.  And she didn’t just dance up there on the stage for the world to adore her. She also came out to the tables and had a great time dancing with a few willing diners. In fact, when she saw me dancing in my seat a little (I can’t help myself), she came over and wisked me up on stage to dance with her. Of course, after eating all that food, I thought I was going to die, but it was a blast.

By the time we left we discovered that we’d been there for 2.5 hours! The time just flew by, and despite the line of people hoping to get in, they never once rushed us to leave.

Reservations are not just recommended, they are pretty much required on the weekend if you don’t want a long wait.  And be sure to check them out on the weekdays too since there’s entertainment every night, including jazz bands, turntables, and singer/songwriter night (last week they had one of Paul Simon’s guitarists playing).

So no more “not in the mood for Moroccan” excuses, The Fez is a MUST-DO for everyone!

Noms:  4.5

Cost:  $$$

 
 
The Fez
Address:  227 Summer Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone:  (203) 975-0479
Site:  http://thefez1.com
 
 

The Fez on Urbanspoon

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